See Us

garrisonreddgarrisonredd Posts: 109Moderator Moderator
25 Awesomes 25 Likes 10 Comments First Answer
edited April 22 in Share your See Us story
My name is Garrison Redd and when I was initially paralyzed at 17 years old I never knew that a couple of years later I would have a bachelors degree in Finance become a Team USA para-powerlifter competing to go to the tokyo 2020 paralympics/ olympics, also Model, do a Tedx Talk, and become a symbol for perseverance. So for anybody that is newley injured or knows someone that was recently injured tell them that the sky is the limit. Also when one door closes another door will open. check out my instagram to learn more @garrisonredd


  • garrisonreddgarrisonredd Posts: 109Moderator Moderator
    25 Awesomes 25 Likes 10 Comments First Answer
    I love your words @Crucker keep motivating
  • CruckerCrucker Posts: 53Moderator Moderator
    25 Likes 10 Comments Name Dropper 5 Awesomes
    @garrisonredd, thank you for your kind words. I really appreciate it. The Reeve people have given me a platform to share my thoughts -- a blog, ReeveConnect, this new SeeUs site, etc. I also write for other disability outlets, but this seems like home to me. Again, thanks for the encouragement. We all need it. AR
  • mjchiluttimjchilutti Posts: 1Member
    First Comment
    edited April 25


    My hope is that people see me as a busy successful guy making a difference in the world! Yes, my life changed in December of 1996 when 2 guys entered my jewelry store to rob me and shot me, and I began life as a T-5 complete paraplegic, but the only real thing that changed since then is that I use a wheelchair to get around. It didn't change my style as a goal driven individual who is always working to help make others lives a little better.

    I work at a great place, Magee Rehabilitation Hospital, and get to help change and improve lives on a daily basis. Yes, like everyone else, I am tired at the end of the day, but there's still a lot of great years ahead for me to enjoy, so I'll keep doing this as long as I can.

    Thankfully, those who know me see me, and not the chair, and that makes life even better!

  • ColeandCharismaColeandCharisma Posts: 12Moderator Moderator
    10 Comments 5 Likes Photogenic Name Dropper
    My name is Cole Sydnor, I am 24 years old, and happily in a committed relationship with my girlfriend Charisma, who has always seen me for who I am, not what I am. I became a C5-C6 quadriplegic after I dove into shallow water and struck a rock just beneath the surface of the water on a summer day in 2011. I was 16 then, and, as many young men do, wrapped my entire identity around the boyish masculinity afforded to a teenager by an able body. It makes sense then that becoming disabled stole from me my identity; I could hardly see who I was anymore. Dating became non-existent in my life, for how can you expect others to see you when you can’t see yourself? Fortunately, I met a woman who is not bound by expectations, and despite not even knowing myself, she knew me, and has drawn that person out every day since we’ve been together. Now I see, too, and feel like a new man. We started a YouTube channel in the hopes that through others seeing us more will understand how powerful an interabled relationship can be. I hope that the world will see us wheelchair users for WHO is in the chair and not WHAT. To see that we are still funny, smart, courageous, athletic, and good looking! #reeveseesus
  • WAGSofSCIWAGSofSCI Posts: 232Moderator Moderator
    100 Likes 100 Comments 25 Awesomes First Answer

    💥||SEE US||💥
    I made this collage for Dan while he was still in rehabilitation after he sustained a high grade, C3 & C5 Spinal Cord Injury- 3 years ago. I purposely placed each photograph that lines our first 3 years together (of us mostly sitting). What do I see now, when I walk past this collage hanging on our wall? I see US, just the way we are today. I see my best friend, a talented cook, a “dog-dad”, a critical thinker, a loyal and honest human being, an inspirational soul, full of life and laughter. Someone asked me the other day, if it was hard having Dan in a wheelchair? I said no, I don’t even notice that he’s in a wheelchair most days until he asks for me to get something down from the cupboard. Because I still just see the person I met almost 7 years ago. I hope this campaign resonates with some of you, we are so much more than an appearance. In a society fueled by first impressions and chasing the never ending ideal image, it’s easy to forget that we are SO much more than the things we buy, or have or use. We are HUMAN. We are all of the characteristics that define our soul. We have so much more to offer. Dig deep and unleash your inner potential and be SEEN for who you truly are. 

    Elena Pauly
    (WAGS of SCI)
    Your WAGS of SCI
    (Elena and Brooke)
  • ZcollieZcollie Posts: 152Moderator Moderator
    100 Comments 25 Awesomes 25 Likes Name Dropper
    #ReeveSeeUs My name is Zack Collie and I am 24 years old. I suffered a spinal cord injury in 2010 at the beach when I dove into a wave and hit a sandbar. For the past almost 9 years I have been confined to a wheelchair, but have NOT let it define who I am and hold me back from my ambitions. A big accomplishment that I achieved since 2019 is reaching 100,000 subscribers on my YouTube channel and that is just one of many. One thing I like to always tell people is that I am still the same “Zack” I was before my accident, but am now sitting down all of the time. I still love hanging out with friends, doing fun activities, be active, spending time with the people I care about and so much more. From when I was first injured there was hardly any awareness about spinal cords injuries and if you had one your life was over. My life has changed in so many ways and I found the women of my dreams who I want to spend the rest of my life with. She accepts me for who I am and looks past my chair. Meeting a girl and dating was one of my biggest fears and insecurities after my accident because it was such an uncommon thing to go through. I am grateful to be living in a time where spinal cord injury recognition is becoming more popular. There is a lot more to each and every one of US than our chair.  Life is NOT over after a spinal cord injury, it is a NEW beginning.

    Accept what is, let go of what was, and have faith in what will be. -SONIA RICOTTI
  • Rebecca LamingRebecca Laming Posts: 2Administrator Reeve Staff
    First Comment Photogenic
    I have the honor of sharing this on behalf of Jennean Hinestrosa:

    My name is Jen, single, and 41 years old. Paralyzed with this spinal cord injury for 8 years. The car in the opposite lane hit a deer and it fell onto the windshield of my car. No memory about this devastating event and became a C-6 Quad (experiencing traumatic brain injury at the time of this sci).

    Forever grateful to my family for their love, support, and strong strength as well as my dear friends and dedicated aides whom some of us are not fortunate to have️ <3

    Feel a stepped-on feeling on my hands and no hand dexterity every day. Feeling an itchy head even after my shower days. Not bed bugs in my hair. :D Experience my stomach feeling full; however, I still have breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily just as everyone does. Having a healthy body is a step in the right direction  :)

    The chills sensation comes on me 24/7 especially at night in my hands, arms, and back. I use a blanket to keep me warm and comfy  :)

    I struggle to deal with my daily life activities which some able-bodied will take for granted. No one pictures living a paralyzed life after all; I did not think about that. Miss my privacy and independence! My legs no longer walk me into the bathroom and my hands have no longer have dexterity in the bathroom just to mention  :'(

    Everyone has their own struggles in life not just those who have a disability. Grateful, I have a powered-wheelchair which is literally my legs to provide mobility. Us disabled are all different with our abilities and secondary conditions we have.

    I need someone to help me with my toileting, body stretches and place electrode pads on my muscles to activate contractions in my legs (and then place electrode pads on my hands to relax the neuropathic pain in them). Love exercising 5 days a week using wrist weights and then ankle weights️  <3

    Someone needs to push me to the bathroom on my shower commode chair, shower me, give me my toothbrush so I can brush my teeth, give me a small cup with mouth wash, brush my hair (since I am unable to hold a brush in my hand), and squeeze hair gel (since I do not have dexterity/grip with my hands) on my hand so I can style my hair with my palm/ fingertips.

    Someone helping me dress, bring me my powered-wheelchair so I can transfer to it using a board, open my make-up for me so I can apply it with my fingertips/ palm (since I have no hand dexterity/grip), do my bed, help with my laundry, do my vacuuming/ dusting, serve/ make breakfast, lunch, dinner, and help me to bed at night.

    Feeling stressed about hearing talks about Medicaid being cut since having it is a medical necessity for me; sorry to admit. :'( It makes life accessible for us wheelchair users to thrive despite this new normal being a constant challenge which I know.

    Still doing my best every day to think through about how I can help and able to do during my daily life activities. I feel like an “Undercover Boss” (from that tv show ;) ) and want to help guide anyone who is helping me while seeing who they are as a human being️.  <3

    After all, we are all human and having a disability does not defy who we are. I love going out to dinner, to the movies, hair salon, to the beach, to NYC, Hershey Park, family get-togethers, friends get-togethers and to the stores.

    As a peer mentor, Thank you for starting this campaign, the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation!! #ReeveSeeUs Unlock the misconceptions people have and unite us, wheelchair users, to share our heart and soul words about our daily lives’!!!!️️️️️️️️️️️️ <3  <3  <3  <3  <3  <3  <3  <3  <3  

  • hmenakerhmenaker Posts: 1Member
    First Comment
    I am a 67 year old man, paralyzed almost five years ago by a back surgery that went very badly.

    In those five years, I have discovered not only my own strength, but the strength of my husband, my friends and my family. I am making a remarkable recovery, thanks to my outstanding therapists and doctors, and thanks to those who love me. They have provided incredible support, and I would not be where I am without them. 

    Although I am learning to walk again, I spend much of my day in a wheelchair. But it does not define me. If you really see me, you will see an optimistic person who goes to the theater several times a week, is a news junkie, shares great meals with friends, and who volunteers for non-profit organizations. You will see a person on a spiritual path, exploring just what matters in this world, and how to be a better person it it

    You will see a man who is loved, and loves in return.

    What you will not see is a defeated, depressed, or resigned individual. I am determined to keep improving. Every day I express my gratitude for all the goods things in my life, and it makes all the difference in my attitude all day.

    I am proud to be member of a community that insists on being seen for our hearts and minds, not for our physical limitations.  See me. See us. 

  • iamdadmaniamdadman Posts: 162Moderator Moderator
    100 Comments 25 Awesomes 25 Likes First Answer
    My name is Joseph Preti and I am a T2-T3 incomplete paraplegic.  Before I tell you about myself, I have to comment on everyone else's posts.  As I was reviewing everyone's "See Us" I was amazed at the abilities, attitudes, successes and overall love of life you all have.  You have my love and respect.
    I was injured in October of 2010 due to a fall brought on by my type 1 diabetes.  I had a severe episode of hypoglycemia and somehow managed to fall from the third floor down onto the second floor inside our home.  I don't remember anything about the fall, in fact I don't remember anything until waking up in ICU a week later.
    I was 59 years old at the time of my injury and therefore had a long life of being able bodied.  This made the transition to being paralyzed extremely difficult for me.  After my accident I kept asking God, "why didn't You just let me die.  I would rather be dead than in this wheelchair."  I felt alone and isolated.  Even though I was very happily married and with three children, I felt alone.  No one else could imagine what it was like to be paralyzed.
    It took me almost a year and a half to rejoin the land of the living.  It started when I attended a program that is now defunct called Project Walk.  There I met so many other people living a great life even though they were in wheelchairs.  They new firsthand what it was like and in spite of being paralyzed, laughed, went to school, had careers and overall loved being alive.  It was a great learning for me.
    I came out of my depression and started getting busy with living life.  I wanted to be of service to others so I became a peer mentor for the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation.  I am also a peer mentor for a great rehab program called Empower SCI which is held every summer at Stony Brook University on Long Island, New York.  In fact, this year, they expanded their program out west to the University of Montana in Missoula, Montana.  Additionally, I serve as a Regional Champion for the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation.  As a Regional Champion, I contact my federal legislators about matters of importance to the disabled community.  I have our two Federal Senators and my district Congresswoman as my contacts.  I have been able to get letters of support for legislation increasing funding for the Paralysis Resource Center.  Additionally, I serve on the Board of Directors for a non-profit called The Here and Now Project.  We are a support group for people living with paralysis and their caregivers.  We hold health fairs, have an annual barbecue and hold support meetings throughout the state of Washington.
    I was retired when I was injured.  I have three children, all of which are married with one granddaughter.  I have been married for 46 years to the absolute love of my life and get this, I lucked out.  Not only is she gorgeous and completely devoted to me, she is a retired RN so needless to say she is an excellent caregiver.
    I am also a musician and have set up a digital recording studio in my home.  I play piano and write and record my original compositions.  I have written songs for my mom and dad both of whom are deceased, all of my kids, my wife as well as other music as well.  My life is filled with so many blessings that it completely overwhelms me at times.  I always tell people that there is a line from the movie "Shawshank Redemption", that Morgan Freeman, Red, says, " either get busy living or get busy dying."  I am too busy living to even think about dying and I am so grateful.  
  • Love80smusicnowLove80smusicnow Posts: 1Member
    First Comment

    Thank you for joining and sharing your story with all of us!!!! Your perspective is awesome and how you describe the process to bring yourself back to center is commendable!!

  • iamdadmaniamdadman Posts: 162Moderator Moderator
    100 Comments 25 Awesomes 25 Likes First Answer
    Thank you so much for your kind words...

  • ColeandCharismaColeandCharisma Posts: 12Moderator Moderator
    10 Comments 5 Likes Photogenic Name Dropper
    @iamdadman Nice to meet you and thank you for sharing your story! We also agree that Project Walk is an amazing program which helps so many people! It is amazing to read all of the programs you are involved in! You rock! Keep up the amazing work! 

    - Cole and Charisma 
  • kentkent Posts: 3Member
    First Comment
    I'm Kent from Nebraska and have been a paraplegic all my life since a birth defect. I walk with crutches and lower leg braces and have an ostomy because of the paralysis. But my real issue these days is bowel management. My physician says I have all the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome without actually having the constipation that often is associated with it. The challenge is dealing with the somewhat regular episodes of diarrhea that are particularly troublesome because my partial paralysis has me without full control of sphincter muscles. I've increased my fiber (Citrucil, bran flakes, fruits primarily), I exercise, drink a lot of fluid, take a probiotic, but I'm often on edge as to when cramps and diarrhea may strike. Any suggestions?
  • housecatfrostyhousecatfrosty Posts: 8Member
    First Comment Photogenic
    reeveI was om daily prednisone fpr 30 years for multiple auto-immune disorders.My pain  specialisr said my spine spine had disintegrated.  After i gpt up and got in my motorized chair i could no longer get back in...   bed.  I called my husband called 911 and firefighters
    got me back in bed..the last time i left my house was tp get my pain med and baclofen pump refilled .  .  my worse day was May 12th call firefigshters again to put me in daughters car.  Pain doctor  said he had never seen my condition before.  I had a mentor from C and D 
       reeve center..I had just gotten a pamplett on autonoomic dysreflexia.  i had so many of the symtoms!
    i have to stop now .have an apt with an old neurologist July 29. thank you
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